Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It Takes Two!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I can confess, now, that Red Rosemary and I discussed this, years ago. What if, we thought, in true mystery author fashion, our two main characters collaborated on a mystery?  My TV reporter Charlotte McNally with Rosemary's wise-cracking master gardener Paula Holliday (digression: I cannot resist telling you that can read Paula's newest adventure SLUGFEST now in paperback! Click here, after you read this post, of course.)

Anyway.We thought, probably over a couple of glasses of wine, that they'd be a terrific team. Charlie, yes, a little older and wiser. Paula, yes, a little younger and braver. And they'd crack each other up, right?

So now, turns out we might have been on to something. The fabulous  (and I do mean fabulous) Jen Forbus has been thinking about mashups, too.  Mystery fiction--becomes mystery fiction fusion.

Mystery Mash-up
Jen Forbus

The Avengers seems to be all the rage this summer in the movie theater. I haven’t seen the movie myself. I know that I’ll get a lot of “boo hiss” for this, but I was never a big superhero fan. I grew up with two sisters, no brothers. And while none of us was overly girly, we also weren’t into the superheroes.

But I’ve always loved my crime heroes. I grew up idolizing Thomas Magnum, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, Chris Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey, David Addison and Maddie Hayes, Angus MacGyver. And you know how every once in awhile there’d be a cross-over of shows, especially if shows ran back to back or if there was going to be a new spin-off? I still remember seeing Mark Harmon on J.A.G just before NCIS was going to start airing.
That got me to thinking – which is usually a dangerous situation – what if some of crime fiction’s writers teamed up to bring their characters together? You know…a mystery mash-up. Would the results be spectacular or devastating? I wanted to think really obscure, not the easy pairings. Here are my ideas for what would make fascinating encounters, even if the results turned deadly:

Craig Johnson’s  foul-mouthed, whip-smart undersheriff Vic Moretti (a former Philly cop) and Chris Grabenstein’s  straight-laced, by-the-book police officer John Ceepak (a former Marine). Now you know someone will end up hurt during this encounter. Vic can’t speak a sentence without profanity and if Ceepak commented on it, ohhhhh my. It would get ugly and you know there’s no way Ceepak could hit a woman. Hopefully they could both take their anger out on the bad guys!

Louise Penny’s  rude, curmudgeonly poet Ruth Zardo and Lee Child’s nomadic former MP Jack Reacher. Think Jack would be quick to jump into bed with Ruth?  And Ruth wouldn’t let Reacher’s unkempt appearance pass by without much harassment. Reacher might actually meet his match with Ruth!

Sophie Littlefield’s  middle-aged, quilt-shop-owner Stella Hardesty who sets abusive boyfriends and husbands straight and Karin Slaughter’s  Sara Linton who can perform autopsies when she isn’t tending to children’s medical needs. Y’all cue up the Martina McBride  on this theme song! Sherman’s march to the sea will look like child’s play when these two open a can of whoop ass.

Alafair Burke’s  smart, Nutella-loving, NYC Police Detective, Ellie Hatcher and Robert Crais’  wise-cracking PI Elvis Cole. These two would be absolutely hysterical together. And they’d drive Joe Pike crazy. Maybe they could meet down in Louisiana since they both have some connections there!

Marcia Clark’s  Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight and Michael Connelly’s (Los Angeles defense attorney Mickey Haller. Oh wait. I think Paul Levine already wrote that series!

Steve Ulfelder’s  auto-mechanic turned amateur sleuth Conway Sax and C.J. Box’s   game warden Joe Pickett. I figure this would be a great pairing because Conway could keep Joe out of the trouble with wrecking his vehicles all the time – or at least fix them before anyone finds out.

Karen Olson’s amateur sleuth/tattoo artist, Brett Kavanaugh and Robert Crais’ strong, silent PI Joe Pike. I can see a whole series of crime solving while Brett tries to convince Pike he needs a full sleeve tattoo!

Cara Black’s PI Aimee LeDuc and Hilary Davidson’s  travel-writing amateur sleuth Lily Moore. I can see Lily on a travel-writing job in Paris, finding herself in the midst of a Aimee investigation, possibly running into each other – literally – in a second-hand clothing boutique.

I’ve had all the fun up to this point. Your turn. What mystery mash-ups would YOU like to see?

HANK: Jen, you so rock.  (I've always thought the Todd's Inspector Rutledge might get together with their Bess Cameron. But that would cause too many problems.  Rhys' Lady Georgie with Cat McPherson's Dandy Gilver. What fun!  And I'd adore to see Jack Reacher with Aimee LeDuc. Sigh. She'd win him over, don't you think?)

 And hey--I'll give a copy of SLUGFEST to one lucky commenter who comes up with a terrific team!

 Jen Forbus (happily here mashed  up between Kelli Stanley and Hilary Davidson)  is a crime fiction fan who blogs at the Anthony-nominated blog Jen's Book Thoughts. When she isn’t reading crime fiction, she enjoys spending time with her house full of furry critters: two chocolate labs, Hershey and Nestle, and four rescue cats. A former high school English teacher, Jen now works with a web-site design company and does various freelance work associated with the crime fiction community. 


  1. Are threesomes allowed? Because I think Mouse and Sister from Anne George's Southern Sisters series should travel north and join forces with Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache. Culture, language, personality clashes...could be fun!

  2. SO Funny! I keep trying to fix up Aimee Leduc..how about with Jeff Abbott's Sam Capra? although he's married...

  3. Hank, how about your Charlotte with Robert B. Parker's Spenser? I don't think he'd be able to charm Charlotte. Or Krista Davis's Sophie Winston with Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone--assuming one of them could time travel a little? Maybe Sophie could teach Kinsey how to make something other than peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

    I think Tim Cockey's Hitchcock Sewell might be a good partner for my own Kathleen Paulson and that has nothing to do with the fact that I'd like Tim to write one more Hitchcock novel. (And would it really kill him to do that?)

  4. Don't forget John J. Malone and Hildegarde Withers from an earlier era! I think they were one of the first pairings of 2 detectives by 2 authors (Craig Rice and Stuart Palmer).

  5. No suggestions. Just enjoyed the mash-up of some of my favorite people, Jen Forbus and Jungle Reds. Thanks for an enjoyable blog!

  6. Oh, what fun! And so many possibilities . . . .
    How about teaming J. D. Robb's Eve Dallas with Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther?
    Or, for clergy in the midst of mysteries, what about Julia’s Reverend Clare Fergusson and Ralph McInerny’s Father Dowlling?

  7. I like the Lafy Georgie and Dandy idea! The other day I was wondering about what it would be like if Amelia Peabody met Lady Julia Grey.

  8. I had a bit in SPIDER'S DANCE where Nicholas was reflecting back on a man he'd met in New York. Slowly but surely, those familiar with the characters realize he's talking about Burke from the Andrew Vachss novels. Didn't make it past the second draft stage, but it was a way of acknowledging the tremendous effect Mr. Vachss on my life, both professionally and personally. Maybe one day....:)

  9. OH, Willliam, I love it. I have to admit I was tempted to put Charlotte McNally in my new not-Charlie book.

    The new main character, Jane, is a TV reporter who was fired--and she COULD have been a competitor of Charlotte's. So now Jane's working at the newspaper, and it would have been such fun for her to see Charlie on TV--just in passing, you know? No big deal.
    But I resisted.

    They do seem like real people, though, so why not have a character cross paths with another fictional character? Even reading about them in the newspaper?. Huh, look, that Paula Holliday got mixed up in another case...or, maybe I should just call that Russ Van Alstyne guy.

  10. Can't think of a single one, but now I have the song "It Takes Two" stuck in my head.

    Ooh, just thought of one. Amelia Peabody and Vicki Bliss. That would be grand fun, and have the added benefit of requiring time travel. It would be the most fun if Amelia Peabody came to the 21st century. I can just imagine what a blast she would have with newfangled devices to add to her famous tool belt! And she would cut quite the dashing figure in today's London in her shirtwaists and pith helmet.

  11. Karen, so funny.I"m singing too, sadly. (Me and you, it just takes two. Sigh.)

    Now I'm thinking about Sherlock and Salander.

  12. I'm thinking how about Dirty Harry Callahan and Allison Dubois the medium? She'd drive him crazy, in a nice way, of course.

  13. I agree with Darlene. Charlie meeting Spenser... I'm laughing just thinking about it!

  14. How about Rhys Bowen's Lady Georgie and Carola Dunn's Hon. Daisy Dalrymple? I suspect the two of them could get in a lot of trouble together! And I've always wondered what would happen if Lord Peter Wimsey ever came across Albert Campion (or vice versa.) I'd also love to see Deborah Crombie's Kincaid and James dealing with Sherlock and Watson (from the modern BBC series -- no time travel required.)

  15. Rumpole and Monk -- now that would be an "odd couple."

  16. What fun, Hank! I totally do think you should have Jane walk past a TV with Charlie on the news and have one stabby thought about their past competition as she goes about her current quest!

    I'd love to see Carolyn Haines' Sarah Booth Delaney paired up with Paul Doiron's Mike Bowditch--the (formerly) wealthy Southern Daddy's Girl and the hardscrabble Maine game warden. I think there would be fireworks between those two, but I wouldn't want to be the bad guy with them on my trail.

  17. Charlie meeting Spenser...yes, that would be terrific. I'll have to call Ace Atkins and see if we can arrange it!

    Has there ever been a book that includes a character from another book? You'd think there would be--I men, not like Ragtime, which uses real characters in fiction. And there would probably be some copyright issues about using current names..

  18. Sherlock and Poirot. Their egos may get in the way.

  19. Oh my goodness everyone, these are so fun! Isn't a little addictive, though? You start thinking about how you can cross over all your favorite characters. I'm still making match-up in my head!

    For example, if Hank's Charlotte found herself in the same town with Brad Parks' Carter Ross, there could be much trouble!

    I'm still trying to think of a good match-up for one of my favorites, Michael Koryta's Lincoln Perry...

    I love Hallie's idea of Rumpole and Monk!

    Too fun. Keep 'em comin'. I'm having such a blast!

  20. I'm still trying to come to terms with the idea of Ruth Zardo and Jack Reacher... tee hee.

    What about Amelia Peabody and Laurie King's Mary Russell? World domination!

    And one of these days, Duncan or Gemma may just happen to walk into Sam Capra's London bar...

  21. Oh, Debs ,right, world domination!

    And Jen, what a troublemaker you are. You know how Carter Ross feels about TV reporters...Charlotte would never stand for it.

    Sherlock and Poirot! That's hilarious.

    I had such a crush on Albert Campion. But that's another blog.

  22. And Jen--when you come back, tell us a bit about your blog! xoo

  23. Hank I'll be glad to talk about my blog. Next to my fur babies, it's my next baby!

    I started blogging about books because I missed being able to talk about books every day the way I did when I was teaching. I had no idea if anyone would talk back, but when they actually did, I was hooked.

    I view my blog as a place where I can tell other people about great books and great writers I've discovered. While some have different philosophies, I simply won't use my blog to bash any books or any writers. Sometimes we'll talk about controversial subjects, but I don't write snarky reviews. So if you're looking for great crime fiction recommendations I encourage you to stop by.

    I also try to brainstorm fun ideas to do with the blog that help make people more aware of the genre and the people writing in it. I've had the six-word memoir series, three theme weeks, interviews, and now I'm trying out the Five on Friday series. So far, it's been a big hit.

    Thanks for asking, Hank!

    I hope you'll stop by and visit if you haven't been before. Always happy to have more folks to talk books with.

    And thanks everyone for your fun ideas you're contributing. This is making me smile from ear to ear!

  24. Oh, Hank, you had a crush on Albert Campion, too? I thought I was the only one. LOL

  25. Jen, I run a little streaming snippets from your blog and JR and a couple of others at the bottom of my web page:-) (www.deborahcrombie.com) (My very neglected web page at the moment, I should add... so at least you and JR are up to date!)

    Lark, what a compliment! I am so in awe of Mark Gatiss's and Stephen Moffat's writing. And I'm sure that their Sherlock would solve Duncan and Gemma's cases in five minutes, and then what would they do???

  26. Hank, I had the world's biggest crush on Peter Wimsey. Definitely another blog...

  27. Hank, I do recall Robert B. Parker having (the insufferable Ms. Perfect)Susan Silverman show up in a couple of the Jesse Stone book series.

    And in 1 or 2 of the Harry Bosch series, Michael Connelly also featured FBI agent Rachel Walling from "The Poet".

    I'm still pondering more crossover twosomes I'd like to see. For some reason today I'm stuck thinking about Ngaio Marsh characters and that era...

    This has been fun and I'm going to check out Jen's blog!

  28. Well, me, too...Jonathan and I went to the CrimeBake banquet as dressed as Lord Peter and Harriet Vane. it was SUCH a treat! (And yes, it was a costume event...:-)

  29. Hank, you and I really were separated at birth. It may not make it into the final cut, but right now Paula is making a walkon appearance in my new non-Paula book. I think I miss her!

    Paula's ready to go on a road trip with Charlie whenever you say!

    Has anyone mentioned Bess Crawford and Ian Rutledge? That could happen.

  30. Yes, and I've actually talked with Caroline Todd about hat...we discussed what huge problems what would cause for---the books! Because if Rutledge is happy, then Hamish disappears, and then...hmmm. Plot problems.

  31. I think Poirot and Monk would be the ultimate pair of obsessive compulsives.

    My fans have suggested that Lady Georgie meet an older, wiser Molly Murphy in the 1930s. They'd be quite a formidable team and Georgie could learn spunk from Molly.

    And what about Maisie Dobbs. She and Georgie would get along well.

  32. I'm all in favor of teaming Conway Sax with Joe Pickett. All royalties to be split down the middle, of course. C.J. Box seems less enthusiastic - he's not returning my calls and has in fact taken out a restraining order.

  33. Well, Steve, CJ just called me..and wants an estimate...From Conway, not you.

    Who was it that had an undependable car, Kinsey Millhone?

  34. Steve, just don't send CJ after me for starting the idea, o.k? ;-)

  35. I always enjoyed the books cowritten by Philip Craig and William Tappley. So sad that both men are gone now,taking their characters with them.

    I would love to see Amelia Peabody time travel to the twenty-first century!Great idea;thanks for suggesting it! I am picturing her with Sephanie Plum. She could straighten out Stephanie...OR further complicate her life! Or pair Amelia with Ruth Zardo...and wait to see which woman survives!

    I want to vote for Paula Holliday to meet Charlotte McNally. Also, I'm worried:are we never going to see either woman again? I don't know if I could handle that. Don't do that to us, Hank and Rosemary! Please?

  36. Never fear, dear Deb! And thank you..xoxo

  37. Not a book crossover, but I'd like USA Network's second-year CIA agent Annie Walker (COVERT AFFAIRS) to cross paths with Michael Westen (BURN NOTICE). Despite airing on the same network, though, the shows are distributed by Universal and Fox respectively.

    Then again, WHITE COLLAR and BURN NOTICE are both distributed by Fox. Could the fugitive Neal Caffrey head to Miami, only to be pursued by Peter Burke?

  38. Oh, Gerald, TV! Whole new worlds! I'd like to send Murphy Brown to The West Wing.

    Or Alexis Carrington to Mad Men.

  39. Thanks everybody! This has been so much fun hangin' out with y'all today. Just like I always say, it adds so much to a book to talk about it with others. You all made this idea so much more fun by talking about it with me.

    Thanks for having me, Reds! You're the best!!

  40. Jen--love you! And hope to see you soon...in person, and at your wonderful blog!

    Tomorrow--the best-selling and brilliant Brenda Novak-and fabulous prizes!

  41. What fun, Jen and everyone! Love the Reacher and Zardo match. I always picture her as Margaret Rutherford.

    How about Joe Pike and Stephanie Plum?

    My thoughts for the Todd books -
    Rutledge and Bess get together, live happily ever after. A new series for them.

    Hamish sulks and wanders Scotland and England for years until he meets Eddie (now also a spirit) from the Maisie Dobbs books in London.

    They solve mysteries, leave spooky messages for Maisie. Eddie takes no lip from Hamish but is kind to him. That and Maisie's gentle psychic psychotherapy cure Hamish of all mental ills. He and Eddie become partners in their own detective agency. New series, no plot problems!

  42. Brilliant, Mary! We'll have to talk to the Todds about that...


    Oh, and Thursday--Bryan Gruley. And what he has to say--will have you buzzing!

  43. Dame Beatrice Lestrange and

    Jesse Falkenstein

    Just saying...Dee